Wisconsin Scholars Longitudinal Study

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Wisconsin Scholars Longitudinal Study

Project Lead

Sara Goldrick-Rab (BIO)

Associate Professor, Department of Educational Policy Studies
Senior Scholar, WISCAPE
University of Wisconsin-Madison


The Wisconsin Scholars Longitudinal Study (WSLS) is the first state-wide longitudinal study of the impact of private need-based financial aid on college persistence and graduation. The study will follow approximately 6,000 low-income college students receiving need-based aid (i.e., federal Pell Grants) who are enrolled in either the University of Wisconsin System or the Wisconsin Technical College System. In addition to their standard aid package, approximately half of the participants have been randomly selected to receive a private multi-year grant from the Fund for Wisconsin Scholars, made possible through a generous donation of $175 million from UW-Madison alumni John and Tashia Morgridge.

The study addresses four main policy-relevant questions:

  1. What are the impacts of private grants on college persistence and graduation?
  2. How do the impacts vary according to the way in which the grant is distributed to students (reduced loans versus increased cash)?
  3. How do the impacts vary by student and college characteristics?
  4. How and why do the impacts arise?

Study findings will have direct implications for both governmental and private grant programs and provide an important basis for addressing current debates about the future of financial aid in the state and nationwide.

The WSLS is a collaborative effort among the University of Wisconsin System, the Wisconsin Technical College System, and the Wisconsin Higher Educational Aids Board. The study is also supported by WISCAPE, the Wisconsin Center for Educational Research, and the Institute for Research on Poverty.

Learn more at the WSLS home page.

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